This Stagehand Reveals the Excitement Behind the Scenes at Shuffle Along | Playbill

Outside the Theatre This Stagehand Reveals the Excitement Behind the Scenes at Shuffle Along Stopped outside the Music Box Theatre, this stagehand talks about his current gig and the “personalities” of Broadway’s houses.
Monica Simoes

Who: Graeme McDonnell
Snapped: Outside the Music Box Theatre on W. 45th Street

McDonnell, is that Irish?
Irish, Scottish, Jewish, Russian and American-Indian.

That sounds like a fascinating family tree!
My grandfather, a Russian Jew, was born on a boat from Odessa and landed in New York harbor. He was a doctor.

You look like you’re at work right now, is that right?
I’m a stagehand on Shuffle Along; I work in the lighting department.

Can you reveal anything exciting about Shuffle Along?
There’s so much talent on that stage; it’s unbelievable. They’re always practicing—around every corner, on every stair, in every dressing room. People are always practicing, and it’s phenomenal.

How many lights are involved in a show like this?
This is a big one. My guess is there are 600 lights, 75 movers and 220 color scrollers—there’s a lot of stuff in this show.

How long have you been a stagehand?
I’ve been doing it since high school.

What made you want to work in the theatre?
Theatre! I saw the original Chorus Line and thought, “That’s what I want to do.” I did a bit of acting in high school, but once I found out there was a tech side, in college, I gravitated towards sound and then light. I went to school for theatre.

Do you still find it fulfilling?
I do. It’s tiring, but fulfilling. I’ve worked in most of the Broadway theatres on this street. Within the last month, I've probably worked in three of them.

Does every Broadway theatre have a different personality?
Definitely. The Belasco is a fairly dark theatre, very old, and filled with a lot of history. You go in and you just feel it. If you go into the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, it’s old, but it’s bright and airy—and that feels different. Not that one is negative or positive; it’s just a feeling you get.

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